For a number of years now, the bio at the bottom of this column has mentioned that my breweriana collection numbers over 400,000 items. It was not until this past spring that I realized how vast a number that is.
Just before St. Patrick’s Day, I purchased a new home, an exciting event for many. For me, it took a while for the excitement to set in. My first thought was “Oh, yeah, now I have to move all of this stuff.” With 45 days left before the closing, it was time to bring order to this bevy of breweriana.
Over the past few years I had outgrown the three-bedroom bi-level I purchased back in college. As I would return home from collecting shows and flea markets, I had no choice but to box and stow the newest treasures. This actually worked to my benefit, because for the first few weekends of the move, the cars, trucks, and U-Haul trailers were easy to load for the trip to the new abode.
It was sometime around the fourth weekend that the move became more of a challenge. In a sick sort of a way, I could not walk past an empty box in public without attempting to acquire it. Bubble wrap, packing peanuts and old newspapers suddenly became golden.
Mark Twain once said that you never really meet a person until you travel with them. I am here to tell you that you never really meet a person until they help you move.
I am one of six kids, so I had a built in labor force among my siblings. In addition, a core of about eight of my fellow collectors came forward to help. I will forever be indebted to these true friends.
A number of them mentioned that, if nothing else, it was really cool to get a first hand look at the collection as a whole. Some added the comment, “400,000 items, my ^$$!” As the two-plus month effort stretched on, it was the consensus that the new number must be at least 500,000. One collector observed that the crazy old woman with 40 cats who shows up every so often on the news has nothing on me.
The slaves who built the pyramids were said to have been paid with a beer known as kash. In no way could I pay my helpers what they were worth, so I borrowed from this tradition. As we dug into the basement of my former house, we uncovered some of my stash of vintage beers: Bigfoot, Anchor Christmas, Sam Smith’s Winter Welcome, Thomas Hardy’s Ale and even some 10-year-old Breckenridge Christmas Ale. I would divvy up these finds among those who were working that particular day.
I also rewarded them with some great beers from the portfolio I oversee at the wholesaler I work for. And when it was all done, we christened the new dwelling with an all-day beer tasting on Kentucky Derby Day. The work force warned me that if I ever even think of moving again, not one of them will answer their phones.
As much as the collection means to me, it does not compare to the wealth I have in my true friends and family. Someone who will take you to the airport or even help you dispose of a body in no way compares with those who will help you move.
The most exciting part of the new home is the fact that the yard is big enough that I can plan to build a good sized barn and make the “Beer Dave Brewseum” a reality. Until then, each weekend seems like Christmas as I begin to sort through and catalog the collection as a whole. The barn project I will save for another time.
“Beer Dave” Gausepohl has collected breweriana since 1974 and has a personal collection of half a million items. He has visited over 1,500 breweries.